[Beowulf] HPC in the cloud question

Prentice Bisbal prentice.bisbal at rutgers.edu
Fri May 8 06:40:36 PDT 2015


What are the characteristics of your cluster workloads? Are they tightly 
coupled jobs, or are they embarassingly parallel or serial jobs? I find 
it hard to believe that a virtualized, ethernet shared network 
infrastructure can compete with FDR IB for performance on tightly 
coupled jobs. AWS HPC representatives came to my school to give a 
presentation on their offerings, and even they admitted as much.

If your workloads are communication intensive, I'd think harder about 
using the cloud, or find a cloud provider that provides IB for HPC 
(there are a few that do, but I can't remember their names).  If your 
workloads are loosely-coupled jobs or many serial jobs, AWS or similar 
might be fine. AWS does not provide IB, and in fact shares very little 
information about their network architecture, making it had to compare 
to other offerings without actually running benchmarks.

If your users primarily interact with the cluster through command-line 
logins, using the cloud shouldn't be noticeably different the 
hostname(s) they have to SSH to will be different, and moving data in an 
out might be different, but compiling and submitting jobs should be the 
same if you make the same tools available in the cloud that you have on 
your local clusters.


On 05/07/2015 06:28 PM, Hutcheson, Mike wrote:
> Hi.  We are working on refreshing the centralized HPC cluster resources
> that our university researchers use.  I have been asked by our
> administration to look into HPC in the cloud offerings as a possibility to
> purchasing or running a cluster on-site.
> We currently run a 173-node, CentOS-based cluster with ~120TB (soon to
> increase to 300+TB) in our datacenter.  It¹s a standard cluster
> configuration:  IB network, distributed file system (BeeGFS.  I really
> like it), Torque/Maui batch.  Our users run a varied workload, from
> fine-grained, MPI-based parallel aps scaling to 100s of cores to
> coarse-grained, high-throughput jobs (We¹re a CMS Tier-3 site) with high
> I/O requirements.
> Whatever we transition to, whether it be a new in-house cluster or
> something ³out there², I want to minimize the amount of change or learning
> curve our users would have to experience.  They should be able to focus on
> their research and not have to spend a lot of their time learning a new
> system or trying to spin one up each time they have a job to run.
> If you have worked with HPC in the cloud, either as an admin and/or
> someone who has used cloud resources for research computing purposes, I
> would appreciate learning your experience.
> Even if you haven¹t used the cloud for HPC computing, please feel free to
> share your thoughts or concerns on the matter.
> Sort of along those same lines, what are your thoughts about leasing a
> cluster and running it on-site?
> Thanks for your time,
> Mike Hutcheson
> Assistant Director of Academic and Research Computing Services
> Baylor University
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